Interview With

Ramon Alvarez-Smikle

Interscope Records


Ramon Alvarez-Smikle

Director of Digital Marketing at Interscope Records

Columbia College Chicago

Music Business




I started at Shazam right after college, and I was brought on as the second member of a two person team dedicated to music & label partnerships. Anything music facing that involved Shazam from US, Canada, and even down to Brazil, we were involved in. It was a lot. Most of it was dealing direct with artists, management, and labels to get creative around campaigns types to run across the Shazam platform.

As I grew at Shazam, I began to take on more of a role in building out how we told the Shazam data story as it related to the music industry; that’s everything from figuring out what part of an artist’s charted-song was being Shazamed the most, to working hand-in-hand with the product team to build out the weekly Billboard Most Shazamed TV Commercials charts. It was an amazing experience overall, and one that allowed me to dive headfirst into the world of data and SQL which I never thought I’d be doing. I was able to work with a ton of incredible people in the industry, especially on the digital side – which inevitably lead to my transition over to Interscope.

Interscope was definitely one of the best label partners I’d had the opportunity to work with with during my time at Shazam, and I saw coming over as an opportunity to learn a different part of the business. I was young when I was at Shazam (at 23), and I wanted to be more hands-on. At a company like Shazam, you’re a partner in the process, focusing on one aspect of the artist’s career as it pertains to your specific app or company, and I wanted to have more of a hand in crafting the entire online story in a creative, organic and effective way directly for artists.

Interscope has an incredible growing roster of both breaking and established acts across all genres, and there are some of the most talented people I’ve ever met working on every team here. Its been an incredible experience so far, and it’s been a great time to join, learn, and grow.


I moved to Chicago with my family when I was seven from the east coast. Chicago is an amazing place to learn, grow and seek opportunity in music. It’s much less competitive in some respects than NYC or LA in terms of the music industry, so if you’re really ambitions, you’ll do well early on in Chicago. I was lucky enough to be able to have an awesome start in music by working for the GRAMMY’s running their college membership program for the Chicago chapter as GRAMMY U Representative, which started my sophomore year. That opportunity really helped me expand my music and creative networks in Chicago, and abroad much faster than I would have without it.

LA is the heart of the entertainment industry. Its why I had dreamed of living and working here throughout college, and why I moved here only a month after graduating. There is another level of opportunity within the music industry in LA that didn’t exist in Chicago for me. That has started to change over the last few years with people like Pat building out amazing companies like Haight Brand, etc that are really bringing incredible opportunities to Chicago that didn’t exist even while I was there.

I’ve been in LA for five years now. Obviously the weather out here is also much nicer. It’s an incredible quality of life. You look off of the balcony of Interscope and you’ll see beautiful sunsets, palm trees and the ocean every day, hard to beat that.


I’m proud of all of the projects I’ve worked on really. The 6LACK project has been a special one for me, since that was my first meeting after starting at Interscope. To go from that meeting around his first project, FREE 6LACK, to now his seeing debut album East Atlanta Love Letter become the #1 R&B album and #3 album in the country during release week is incredible. It was amazing to be a part of this on the digital side, and getting to work with the incredibly smart Love Renaissance team and team here at Interscope on the project has been a really rewarding experience.

We’re now also seeing a huge rise with Sheck Wes. Mo Bamba seems to be on pace to be one of the years biggest songs, and everyone from 6LACK to Playboi Carti to Juice WRLD -- it’s just really cool to see some of these acts who you start on day one with, grow to the point where they have some of the most popular music and Influential personal brands in the world. 

And then also on a larger scale, the K.O.D release by J. Cole was an incredible one to be a part of on the digital side -- it was one of my favorite records of the year by one of my favorite artists.


It needs to feel organic. When it feels like an ad or is forced in front of you, it has a negative effect. Influencer marketing for me is all about awareness and added value and so if it gets reposted by a couple big people then it really expands the reach of who we were initially targeting, and that’s a win. Influencer marketing is the next phase of native advertising, and we’re doing a really good job at finding creative ways to keep content fresh and owning the space.

Content and what’s relevant changes by the minute, so you constantly have to be adjusting your content marketing strategy to stay relevant and fresh. We want to give fans content that they like and think is funny or cool while at the same time giving artists content that expands their reach and awareness.

Fans don’t want to feel like they’re being sold to, they want to feel like they’re being serviced, and Interscope does this really well in digital advertising across the board.


I’m currently super excited about Sheck Wes. He’s one of those people who’s just really special, talented and driven.

I’ve been fortunate to be a part of his team since day one at Interscope and we’re just getting started. People love Mo Bamba , it’s a classic record, but I think beyond that he has a chance to be one of the biggest and most successful artists in the world over the next couple years.

Then obviously Juice Wrld – his star is only rising. too. Smino is also someone I’m super excited about moving forward – his music is so unique and he is incredibly talented, his flow is next level. I really think he’s on that point of breaking to a much wider audience with the new music. 

Interscope overall has done an incredible job of signing and breaking some incredibly talented artists even over the two years that I’ve spent here, and we’re showing no real signs of slowing down.



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